Thursday 21 June 2018

'She couldn't believe it' - Ibrahim Halawa's sister fainted after seeing her brother for the first time since his release

Formalities with Ibrahaim Halawa's new passport means he faces further delays before getting home
Formalities with Ibrahaim Halawa's new passport means he faces further delays before getting home

Sasha Brady

Formalities with Ibrahim Halawa's new passport means he faces further delays before getting home.

The 21-year-old Dubliner was released from prison in Cairo on Thursday night but he is not expected to return to Ireland for a number of days.

Ibrahim's sister Fatima told RTÉ News that the family are delighted with the news.

"Last night was the first time in four years that we were able to sleep peacefully without guilt and we felt assured that Ibrahim was sleeping on a bed and was safe. That was really good.

"We don't know exactly when he is going to be back because there is some paperwork that needs to be done. There is holidays today in Egypt and tomorrow as well so we won't know exactly when these papers will be completed. We will have him on the first flight home. but it won't be before Sunday."

Fatima said that Mr Halawa has family around him in Egypt at the moment.

Sisters of Ibrahim Halawa celebrating the news of his acquittal on charges relating to mass protests in Cairo four years ago. l-r; Somaia, Fatima, Khadiza and Somaia. Ballycullen, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Sisters of Ibrahim Halawa celebrating the news of his acquittal on charges relating to mass protests in Cairo four years ago. l-r; Somaia, Fatima, Khadiza and Somaia. Ballycullen, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

"Nosayba is over there and when she first saw him she fainted. She couldn't believe it. She has been to visit him before in the prison and it was weird hearing that upon seeing him on release, she fainted. It's amazing. He's there and she's with him."

Mr Halawa's mum was released from hospital yesterday, in time to hear the news with her family.

"It gave her reassurance. She went through surgery and was on the road to recovery. It felt good for her."

Fatima said that the family had "a long four years".

"Every day we waited for news. It happened and it's the best news ever. We have a lot of celebrations and catching up to do."

Speaking on RTE's Morning Ireland, Simon Coveney said that Mr Halawa needs to get an immigration stamp on his passport before he can return home.

"We need to get that immigration stamp. In order to do that he needs to turn up in person at the immigration ministry," said Mr Coveney.

"The timing and problem with that is we are in the Egyptian weekend, which is  Friday and Saturday.

"That office is not open on a Friday and has very limited opening on a Saturday so we are obviously working to get him home as quickly as possible but it will be either Sunday or Monday by the time he is home I suspect."

Mr Coveney also said that the timing of Mr Halawa's release was "somewhat unexpected last night actually, as he was released at 11pm last night from the police station that he was originally detained in".

The Department of Foreign Affairs issued a new passport for Mr Halawa in September.

He had spent four years in a Cairo prison after being arrested, along with hundreds of other individuals in 2013, during peaceful protests against the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi

Mr Halawa was acquitted of all charges at an Egyptian court on September 18 but his release from prison was not immediate.

Former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said that it was an "outrage" that it took four years for the trial to be completed.

Speaking on RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Mr Shatter said "No one in 2013 anticipated it was remotely possible that it would take four years for a verdict. There was absolutely no reason of any description for a young Irish boy of 17 to be held in prison for four years."

Mr Shatter said it was "unacceptable" that Mr Halawa then continued to remain in prison for a month despite a non-guilty verdict.

He called for a bilateral agreement with Ireland and Egypt "to see what treaty provisions can be put in place to ensure that no Irish person suffers Ibrahaim's fate".

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